Tag Archives: observations

The Question never Asked

[a poem by   ~burning woman~   written by Sha’Tara]

Is there meaning to believe in?
I’ve done all I could to absorb this world,
to understand people, no, not just
people, but this world’s life.
I’ve seen and felt its endless struggle,
its romance with beauty and with horror.
So much drama but never an answer
to the eternal question.
You may ask, ask, and ask; you may
shed tears of raw pain, of sorrow, of anger
and the world is awash in mute noise.

I’ve seen cats fight and children die in war,
heard and read the boasting, seen the posturing
over beads, trinkets and ticker-tape money
and walked streets I thought were painted red
but it was always the blood of innocents,
no thin red line but a widening swath
leading to a pile of skulls and scattered bones.

Rats ran away as I came near as if I’d been more
than a nameless ghost in an endless dream.

I can see, I can hear, I can smell and
I can feel. As if that could ever be enough!
I have observed, weighed my thoughts
to realize they were too heavy to bear;
looked in a mirror to watch myself age
as in a time-lapse scene
from angst of birth to relief of death,
its in-betweens sprinkled with flashes of joy
stolen from the ever-dying landscape.

And all I ever wanted was to ask
the one question never asked before;
the one question no one ever dared ask
or no one ever thought to ask: the
one that answers all others – how
presumptuous to believe I could
formulate such a thing, that I
could discover the meaning of life or,
if you will: the meaning of meaning.

Toast and Jam

[thoughts  from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

Sometimes I want to just say, “fukitol” and go on to finish my life, echoing the sentiment expressed in the movie The Answer Man: “Hell… is other people.”

That’s a bit extreme. Let’s just say that hell is most other people, is that better? Just kidding. Actually I don’t believe that other people are hell though after many of them have passed through here, after experiencing an Earth reshaped into man’s image, who needs hell?

That being said, it’s not at all what I want to express here today. I want to return to my favourite topic, compassion, but I want to throw something new in the mix: love.

I know that love is not something new for Earthians, but it is something new for me to bring up as I expound some more on the concept of compassion. I’ve already established to my satisfaction that love and compassion as totally dissimilar concepts. I’ve gone so far as to claim that love works against the person who would express herself as a compassionate being, and I have explained it thus: that love is exclusive whereas compassion is inclusive; that love cannot exist as a stand-alone concept (what would be the point?) whereas compassion does, and must. Love is dependent, compassion is for the self empowered. 

Could I look at these two concept in a less extreme way?

The usual response to love and compassion is predictable: mostly the two concepts exist as indistinguishable in the Earthian mind and they get totally confused. I realize that is due to programming and that is why most people cannot get a handle on compassion because they cannot separate it from love. Why should they when they remain convinced the two are interchangeable?

Imagine that you own a car and you are stuck with servicing it to make it work. You remember that certain fluids are needed for the machine to work. Two main ones are gas (do they still call it petrol in Britain?) and coolant, or a mix of coolant and water. You have the two fluids but you can’t remember which one goes where. So you say, oh well, doesn’t matter, I’ll pour this one in here, and that one in there and the car will sort it out. Clever that… until of course the car dies because you put the coolant in the fuel tank and the fuel in the radiator.

Let’s use a different analogy for compassion and love and how I see how these things get confused. Let’s say “toast and jam.” Compassion is the toast and love is the jam. That’s how the Earthian mind perceives it. Toast can be a stand alone food, but jam, not so much. Nevertheless the Earthian emotional heart, or mood trend setter, prefers to have jam and not bother with toast. When people speak of love, it’s jam; a taste good, feel good thing. If they have to have toast with it, so be it, but it’s the jam they hanker for.

Personally, sticking with the analogy, I have no problem having toast without the jam but generally speaking it’s the other way around for most. Toast is bland, often crunchy, somewhat tasteless and it needs help. Enter jam. Love.

Now imagine that most people choose to just eat jam for breakfast because they don’t like toast. Some diet that, huh? Not very healthy.

Without carrying this on from the sublime to the ridiculous, let’s give it some thought.

 

Exceptionalism is not just an American sickness, it’s a collective madness rising as a world destroying tsunami. More and more groups vying with others to make their voices and concerns heard and the louder they get, the more chaos ensues. Hyperbole? Observation says no. It is a fact of “tidal waves” of people sensing the serious unease of the times and honestly having no idea on how to deal with it except by regurgitating old concepts, the favorite remaining war and it doesn’t matter much against whom, or what just as long as there is fighting going on.

Earth has a major problem and it’s called mankind, the pseudo-intellectual species that chose, as a collective, to re-make Earth and its environment into its own image. It’s that simple and that devastating because the only way it could have worked is in the exact opposite direction: man should have known, when a much younger species, to adapt itself to its world. Its intellectual hubris drove it to chose exploitation and oppression over cooperation. The big “Wrong Way: Do Not Enter” sign was torn down and used to make crosses and scaffolds for those who insisted on teaching a better way.

Man chose wrong. A long time ago. The choice, once made, could never be countered because the creature’s body over time kept adapting to non-natural ways of engaging nature, i.e., life. The choice was irrevocable and would begin a string of horrible consequences a few are just beginning to recognize and admit to. The final consequence: the destruction of the planet insofar as the life-sustaining aspects of it goes.

As an environmentalist, as an activist, as an elder, as an observer and as a self empowered individual without any agenda, not even of personal survival because I don’t need that kind of pretend comfort, I’m going to state this as clearly as I can.

I know there is no survival, that all are born to die and that the only thing that matters, if anything does, is what one does in between that beginning and that end. To that I can add with certainty that “man” will continue to run from the stick and after the carrot: there is no longer any choice; there never was any choice once the wrong turn was chosen. Those who thought they could return to nature and choose a different path have been all but eliminated as genocidal fuel for civilization.

As a species man is done for. There is no possibility of turning back the tide of exploitation and oppression because that is the very thing that fuels his civilization. That is what must be understood and admitted to: that oppression, in particular, is the fuel that feeds civilization. Therefore, as should have been obvious since inception, this civilization (as were all preceding civilizations) is an unsustainable concept.

Therefore it should be obvious that any proposed solution based on tried and failed concepts are the re-running of old black and white movies: when you walk out of the theater, nothing has changed: your world did not change into a black and white Pleasantville.

As an intelligent and quite able to reason species, man should have never gotten upon this road but the temptation was just too great to resist. Man adapted itself to pillaging, raping, destroying and killing, all the while thinking it was building ever-after empires.

Man built his cities, his monuments to pride, exploitation, control and the resultant smog (literally, morally and spiritually) spreads over the planet like the fumes that poured out of Mount Doom… but there are no mighty men, no dwarves, no elves, no Hobbits, no wizards and no Ents to extinguish this volcano.

20190512_112348

(Vancouver, May 12, 2019 – from 2000 feet – photo by Sha’Tara)

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” Albert Einstein

Earth is a Forced Labour and Death Camp

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

It may well be that prior to the advent of capitalism and prior to the establishment of the patriarchy that formed a global civilization, planet earth was as good a place as any on which to exist. Note that I am not saying “live on” or “survive on” but exist. To live means to have a purpose. To survive means to cling to life in the hope that it will give or provide purpose on the long run.

Only problem with that was, there was no long run and purpose seldom manifested in any meaningful sense. Those who gave themselves purpose without serving the Matrix, that is, the patriarchy and it’s exploitative, brutal methods soon found themselves hounded, hunted down, and when captured, “crucified” for attempting to bring about a change of methods to life on earth, that is, to man’s type of life, if it can be called that.

Based on my observation, I have come to the inevitable conclusion that man’s earth as defined by his capitalistic patriarchy is in essence nothing more nor less than a forced labour and death camp.

Do I really need to elaborate on that observation and conclusion or is this enough of a reminder that all of the greatest manifestations of social evil extant in this civilization can be laid at the feet of its “camp kommandants” who give themselves the titles of CEO’s, presidents, kings, queens, judges, professors emeritus, generals, policemen,emirs, investment bankers, popes, priests and preachers… any one who by some sort of decree holds the power of life and death over a subservient multitude.

Any member of the untitled multitude who decides to treat the elites in the same manner as it treats the multitude is immediately declared enemy of the people and put on a most wanted list to be eliminated. The rulers of the forced labour and death camp can kill any number of ‘the masses’ with impunity but the same does not apply in reverse.

The masses, trapped in this web of deceit and death learned long ago that to challenge and perhaps even dethrone the elitist apparatus was a very painful and bloody process that in the end only replaced one set of “kommandants” with another and surprise, surprise, that new set arose from the very forces that set out to upset and destroy the status quo. In other words, there is no way out of the camp except by dying.

And even then, that is not the end of it…

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #50

…“I’ve cursed Malefactus and every male on it.  I’ve looked into the sky at Albaral and cursed that too.  I’ve used the doctor to my own ends instead of just taking it like everybody else and dying as I should have.  In the end it seems to me that I am the one who brought all these diabolical things to Malefactus; that I made a most terrible mistake long ago and now everybody is paying for my foolishness and my false sense of redemptive properties.  I’m an idiot, YBA. 

“You are looking at a wreck and a wretch of a once human being!  To seek more vengeance, and along with letting myself fall in love with a man I can never really be with – you heard me earlier and heard his response – what can I say? 
[end blog post #49]
_______________________
[begin blog post #50]

“Yes, of course I can feel your thoughts, human.  I also know that you love Dr. Echinoza – and so do I.  I’m his mistress.  When he disappears at times it’s to spend time with me.  We have a place hidden deep in the southern hemisphere, beyond the great desert and beyond the land of the black ones.  A simple little fold-up hut by the sea that we collapse and hide when we are away.  We enjoy each other’s company and we are in love, as you put it.  But I would never place my joy before yours.  If he chose you, I would serve you as the one who is me.  Perhaps, since you are human you could give him the child I can never.  Cydroids cannot impregnate nor become pregnant.  We can only be cloned.

“As for your concerns regarding vengeance or compassion, “methinks you doth protest too much.” Your conundrum is not a problem to us.  If Warmo is convicted of his crimes, or at least one of them, he will forfeit his life.  He will be offered something he cannot refuse: to meet you personally and fight you to the death in the arena.  His hate for the doctor and specifically for you, not only as the one who survived the special treatment he had planned for you and escaped from his misogynist sadism, but as a woman who has a reputation for killing that surpasses his own; who stands higher in stature than he and who has the concerns of the King whereas he has lost his – all these can only mean one thing.  He will be eager to kill you.  And you will find him a tougher match than anything you’ve ever known.  It is good that you should fight him to honour all the ones whose lives he has broken and devoured.  This task belongs to you, Antierra.

“I’ve studied your experiences from your mind.  In Old Earth as you call it, you have an expression, “He fought like a cornered animal.”  That is what you will be fighting: a cornered animal.  But not just any animal.  This Warmo I can compare to your memories of a creature you called a “wolverine” – a large rodent-like weasel family predatory creature that used to wander the wilds of your adoptive homeland on Old Earth; a loner that dangerous predators much larger than itself carefully avoided.  There is another creature I could compare Warmo to that also exists in your mind from your adoptive home world: a Tasmanian devil.  That is what this pseudo-human is comparable to.  But do not dwell on that now.  Your subconscious will inventory my words and present you with a way to defeat this creature. 

“When you enter the auto-medic for your replacements – you will be in there for two and a half days minimum – I will connect you with the info-vid and give you, in pictures and words, all that we have collected on Warmo.  When you are ‘returned’ after your treatment you will possess the rudimentary inner workings of Warmo’s mind. 

“He will think you are literally reading his mind when you meet him.  So the challenge will be both physical and intellectual.  Get close enough to hold the mirror.  Speak to him, however you must, in whatever tone.  He won’t be able to stop you then.  The key to defeating him is to play on his subconscious superstition and fear of the unknown.  All sadistic types do so from their pathological fear of the unknown, of the place beyond death they fear above anything.  So display his death – show it to him.  Let him feel it, over and over.  That is how you play him down and defeat him.

“You seem so sure about everything.  How can you know all this?”

“Cydroids never operate without knowledge, Antierra.  We project constantly into the immediate future and shape it to our needs based on our previous experiences in similar situations – or so it seems to us.  Or we shape ourselves to its needs.  Our nature possesses the innate ability of instant adaptation to any and all contingencies.  If we fail to grasp existing information based on knowledge, that is, based on experience, we run instantaneous simulations in our mind – in linked pattern with our twins whenever possible, and we operate based on that approach.  We must “know” before we “do” and so we always know because we have already “done” what we are about to do.”

“YBA, I’m overwhelmed and amazed by you.  You are the most human non-human I’ve ever encountered, as far as my memories can reach at this moment.”

“Do you realize that when you call me “YBA” you are directly accessing the minds of all my twins?  That you are speaking to all of us?  We respond to our name-stamp.  YBA – all of us, from 1 to 5.  Say ‘YBA5’ and the others won’t  listen.  I don’t mind either way, just thought you should know.

“I paid you the highest compliment any Cydroid can give a human.  Now you have reciprocated by giving me the highest compliment any true human could give a Cydroid.  I think we have a mind-link now.  That is, in your language, we are friends.”

“How can you consider me your friend when I’ve openly stated I loved Bal, that is, Dr. Echinoza as a woman loves a man?”

“Ah, but all the more reason you see.  The choice between us, if one needs to be made, must be his.  You and I, we are females, women.  We do not need to make this choice at all!  He must be the one to know his own feelings about us.  Why could he not love both you and I simultaneously without any problem?  I certainly would encourage it.  Wouldn’t you?  We understand what it means to love a man.  The more women love that man; the more he is truly loved by the many women, the better that man will be in every possible way a man can be.

“Our role, ultimately, if nature ever gave us one as humanoid females, is to make men better than they are, or think they can be.  And we do this by pleasing them and satisfying them.  Not as rutting animals, but in love.  You see, if we love them, no matter how much all they ever want to do is “fuck” as you call it, they will receive the full benefit of our love.  And if we are true to our nature, giving such love will only strengthen us.  It will never diminish us as long as we are not interacting from either enforced submission, expectation or jealousy, meaning in competition with other females.”

I had anticipated her reply.  “Your words would not sit well with some of the women I have known, especially on Túat Har of C-20!  But you are right, I would also encourage the sharing.  Actually YBA5, I don’t want to love him like that.  I don’t want to bear his child or be his mistress, wife or have any other attachments to him.  Logically, I don’t need the complications, even were circumstances different, for example, were I on Koron with him.  If as you say I’m to be repaired and live, I must concentrate on what I came here to do.  Let him find sexual pleasure with me when we are together if he still wants that from me.  I will certainly give him that out of friendship and gratitude, and with love.  That is if he doesn’t just take it!  But that’s not what he expects from me.  He wants to know what I know of the workings of our universe, information he does not have. For the rest, he has you.

“But tell me this.  Has he ever, even when in your idyllic hideaway, turned on you and hit you, or cursed you as he did me?” 

“Well, of course.  It’s not as intense down there, away from this concentrated world of men but it happens regularly that he is taken by the fever.  He beats me.  He curses me, yes.”

“How do you respond?”

“I can only respond as would your Deirdre.  I let him beat me and curse me.  I allow it to flow out of him.  But unlike the Cholradil, I do it for love, deliberately and knowingly, neither because I can’t help it, nor out of a sense of submission.  I could certainly stop him.  I could easily disable him, even harm him.  But by allowing it to flow I heal him that way.  Afterward I make sure he does not go into his guilt-based depression.  I fully understand the sickness and I separate the sick from the disease, Antierra.  I am programmed for this but I also do it by choice, as a doctor and healer.  Now let me check the condition of your mind before I give you a half-cube of stim because your pain should be returning full force, yes?”

“Yes it is.  By force of habit I wanted to bear it and not take any medication for it.  Hold it and absorb it, you know.”

“That is good for the fights and in the long nights of pain from blows and wounds when you lie in the cages, yes.  To identify with the others, to understand in empathy, in compassion?  But it is unnecessary here.  I will not allow it.  Here, take it now.”

She hands me the half-cube of stim from Deirdre’s parting gift – and if only she could have known how it would help me! – then holds my arm, careful not to disturb its current resting place and puts her other hand on my temple.

“I sense your thoughts.  They are clear now.  The effects of the sedating drug we gave you are fading and you are thinking properly.  Yes, you have created good wiring in your brain.  I like touching you, getting your impressions.  I’ve never seen such openness, such divergent worlds.  I like your world of Altaria.  I like that last place where you sat and waited for the right moment to leave.  What a sad journey to take, yet so beautiful.  You gave up everything to come here.  You “died” all alone after all those days spent just looking into the great Rift valley, without sleep, food or water.  Your sea birds, the giant osoleys, they are such beautiful creatures.  I can almost reach out to them and call them to sweep gracefully beneath your falling body and carry it out to the ocean for a proper burial – where it is generally believed all biological life comes from and returns to.

“I must add this regarding your outburst earlier.  All those evil, diabolical things you insist you’ve done.  Self-pity, Antierra.  Hyperbole.  You are a true and straight Altarian.  Do not let any horror, on any world or place, take away the honour you owe yourself.  Never let doubt dishonour who you know you truly are.  It would be a sad day for all of us if you gave up.”

I find my eyes filling with tears as she reads these details in my mind.  I had expected her to find nothing but a chaotic mess of darkness and filth in there.  She holds up a mirror for my mind to heal itself from the “little death” of fear and doubt.  I am indeed, still alive, very much so. 

And I remain, despite all of this pain and confusion, Al’Tara the Altarian. 

I am not lost.  I will pass this test.

[end blog post #50]

The Last Battle – by Chris Hedges

Due to WordPress’ ongoing snafu condition, I was unable to access the following in the usual way so I cannot use the “Reblog” button. Instead I’ve copied the article and pasted it here, in its entirety, with proper credits and links, I hope.  And how would I title this article if I had written it? How about the very first line from Canada’s national anthem?

“Oh Canada, our home and native land…”  …and while you are reading I’ll go and throw up.

DEEP GREEN: ‘Recovery of the Sacred’, The Last Battle – By Chris Hedges

by The Smoking Man

Source – truthdig.com

“…The Cree have been under relentless assault since the arrival of the European colonialists in the 1500s. Now the 500 inhabitants of the Cree reserve, where many live in small, boxy prefabricated houses, are victims of a new iteration of colonial exploitation, one centered on the extraction of oil from the vast Alberta tar sands. This atrocity presages the destruction of the ecosystem on which they depend for life. If the Cree do not stop the exploiters this time, they, along with the exploiters, will die”

The Last Battle – By Chris Hedges

THE BEAVER LAKE CREE NATION, Treaty No. 6 Area, Canada. I am driving down a rutted dirt road with Eric Lameman, a member of the Cree nation.

“Over there,” he says, pointing out where he was born in a tent 61 years ago.

We stop the car and look toward a wooded grove.

“That’s the mass grave,” he says softly, indicating a clearing where dozens of Cree who died in a smallpox epidemic over a century ago are buried.

The Cree have been under relentless assault since the arrival of the European colonialists in the 1500s. Now the 500 inhabitants of the Cree reserve, where many live in small, boxy prefabricated houses, are victims of a new iteration of colonial exploitation, one centered on the extraction of oil from the vast Alberta tar sands. This atrocity presages the destruction of the ecosystem on which they depend for life. If the Cree do not stop the exploiters this time, they, along with the exploiters, will die.

The reserve is surrounded by the tar sands, one of the largest concentrations of crude oil in the world. The sands produce 98% of Canada’s oil and are the United States’ largest source of imported oil. This oil, among the dirtiest fossil fuels on earth, is a leading cause of atmospheric pollution, releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide. The production and consumption of one barrel of tar sands crude oil release 17% more carbon dioxide than production and consumption of a standard barrel of oil.

Tar sands oil is a thick, mucky, clay-like substance that is infused with a hydrocarbon called bitumen. The oil around Beaver Lake is extracted by a process known as steam-assisted gravity drainage, which occurs under the earth and is similar to fracking. Farther north, extraction is done by strip-mining the remote boreal forest of Alberta, 2 million acres of which have already been destroyed. The destruction of vast forests, sold to timber companies, and the scraping away of the topsoil have left behind poisoned wastelands. This industrial operation, perhaps the largest such project in the world, is rapidly accelerating the release of the carbon emissions that will, if left unchecked, soon render the planet uninhabitable for humans. The oil is transported thousands of miles to refineries as far away as Houston through pipelines and in tractor-trailer trucks or railroad cars. More than a hundred climate scientists have called for a moratorium on the extraction of tar sands oil. Former NASA scientist James Hansen has warned that if the tar sands oil is fully exploited, it will be “game over for the planet.” He has also called for the CEOs of fossil fuel companies to be tried for high crimes against humanity.

It is hard, until you come here, to grasp the scale of the tar sands exploitation. Surrounding Beaver Lake are well over 35,000 oil and natural gas wells and thousands of miles of pipelines, access roads and seismic lines. (The region also contains the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, which has appropriated huge tracts of traditional territory from the native inhabitants to test weapons.) Giant processing plants, along with gargantuan extraction machines, including bucket wheelers that are over half a mile long and draglines that are several stories high, ravage hundreds of thousands of acres. These stygian centers of death belch sulfurous fumes, nonstop, and send fiery flares into the murky sky. The air has a metallic taste. Outside the processing centers, there are vast toxic lakes known as tailings ponds, filled with billions of gallons of water and chemicals related to the oil extraction, including mercury and other heavy metals, carcinogenic hydrocarbons, arsenic and strychnine. The sludge from the tailings ponds is leaching into the Athabasca River, which flows into the Mackenzie, the largest river system in Canada. Nothing here, by the end, will support life. The migrating birds that alight at the tailings ponds die in huge numbers. So many birds have been killed that the Canadian government has ordered extraction companies to use noise cannons at some of the sites to scare away arriving flocks. Around these hellish lakes, there is a steady boom-boom-boom from the explosive devices.

The water in much of northern Alberta is no longer safe for human consumption. Drinking water has to be trucked in for the Beaver Lake reserve.

Streams of buses ferry workers, almost all of them men, up and down the roads, night and day. Tens of thousands from across Canada have come to work in the tar sands operations. Many live in Fort McMurray, about 180 miles from Beaver Lake, and work punishing 12-hour shifts for three weeks at a time before having a week off.

The Cree, the Dene and other tribes that live amid the environmental carnage and whose ancestral lands have been appropriated by the government to extract the tar sands oil suffer astronomical rates of respiratory and other illnesses. Cancer rates are 30% higher than in the rest of Alberta, according to the Alberta Cancer Board, which was disbanded soon after releasing this information in 2008.

When he was a child, Eric Lameman was taken from his parents by the government, a common practice a few decades ago, and sent to an Indian boarding school where beatings were routine, speaking Cree or any of the other indigenous languages was forbidden and native religious and cultural practices were outlawed. He says the forced severance from his family and his community, along with the banning of his traditions, was psychologically devastating. He remembers his father and other Cree elders on the reserve performing religious rituals in secret. He would sneak to the woods to watch them as, risking arrest, they clung to their beliefs and spiritual practices.

Lameman defied the efforts to wipe out his identity and his culture, which he nurtured in spite of the attempts to eradicate them. And he says it is only his Cree roots that keep him whole and make it possible for him to endure. He suffered extreme poverty. He also had periods of addiction and even episodes of violence. It is hard to avoid personal disintegration when the dominant culture seeks to eradicate your being. Canada’s indigenous people represent 4 percent of the population, but they make up more than a quarter of the inmates in the nation’s federal prisons. Lameman’s wife left him and their young children. She died from alcoholism on the streets of Calgary. He worked as a heavy machine operator in the tar sands. He quit when he realized the land he was despoiling would never recover and he began to get sick. He survives now on welfare.

We are back in his small house, seated in the tiny kitchen. His daughter Crystal Lameman, an internationally known indigenous rights activist, heats juniper in an iron skillet until fumes of the pungent herb drift upward. We cup our hands and pull the smoke into our nostrils. The Cree and others say “smudging” cleanses negative energy, helps bring clarity and vision, and centers those exposed to the scent. We sit quietly.

The more the Cree recover their traditions to defy the capitalist mantra of hoarding, profit, exploitation, self-promotion and commodification of human beings and the earth, the more their life has an intrinsic value rather than a monetary value. This recovery is the antidote to despair. It grounds the Cree spiritually. It permits transcendence. It at once estranges them from reality and brings them closer to it. Resistance is not only about challenging the extraction companies in court, as the Cree have done in trying to block the tar sands industry and the pipelines from their traditional land; it is about holding fast to another orientation to reality, one that we all must adopt if we are to survive as a species. It is about the recovery of the sacred. The white exploiters seek not only to steal the land and natural resources and commit genocide against indigenous communities but to wipe out this competing ethic.

“I need my people,” Eric Lameman says. “I need the ones that know our history, our language, our spiritual practices and our culture. I rely on them to pass it on to me so I can pass it on.”

The exploiters have sought to corrupt the Cree and bastardize their traditions. Extraction companies have paid off some tribal leaders to support pipelines or surrender tribal territory to oil development. The companies use the quislings to mount propaganda campaigns in favor of extraction, to divide and weaken indigenous communities and to attempt to discredit leaders such as Crystal. The federal government last year staged a Cree religious ceremony, complete with honor songs and drums, to bless the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and Canada’s $4.5 billion purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, developments that mean death for the Cree people.

“This is what they call reconciliation,” Eric says bitterly.

“It’s cultural appropriation,” Crystal says. “ ‘Reconciliation’ is a bullshit word. Reconciling with whom? Reconciling what? Reconciling us with the current colonial systems of exploitation? Until they dismantle the structures of exploitation there can be no reconciliation.”
The man camps of tens of thousands of tar sands workers fuel the prostitution industry. Indigenous girls and women, living in squalor and poverty, are lured by the seemingly easy and fast money. Their sexual degradation soon leads to addictions to blunt the pain. This too is a legacy of colonialism. Canada began as a military and commercial outpost of Britain. The Hudson’s Bay Company did not permit European women to immigrate to Canada. Brothels, populated by prostituted indigenous girls and women, were established alongside the military forts and trading posts. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police issued a report in 2015 that found that indigenous, or First Nations, women, who constitute 4.3% of Canada’s female population, are four times more likely to go missing or be murdered than other Canadian women. They are 16% of female murder victims and are the objects of 11% of missing person’s cases involving women.

“I was on a panel in Vancouver,” Crystal Lameman says. “I used the word ‘prostitution.’ A trans person got up and told me to use the term ‘sex work,’ saying it was a choice. Impoverished and vulnerable indigenous girls and women do not choose to be prostitutes. They are forced into that world. Girls are conditioned for this from familial disintegration and sexual abuse. … Sexual abuse, a common experience for girls in residential schools and the foster care system, is another one of the legacies of colonialism.”
The infusion of workers with disposable incomes has also seen an explosion in drugs in northern Alberta such as crack cocaine and crystal meth, and with the drugs has come a rash of suicides among the native population. Suicide and non-suicidal intentional self-injuries are the leading causes of death for First Nations people under the age of 44 in Canada. Young indigenous males are 10 times more likely to kill themselves than other Canadians. Young indigenous females are 21 times more likely to commit suicide. Beaver Lake has not been spared, losing seven people to suicide in a 12-month period in 2014 and 2015. All of them were under the age of 44, and all were drug addicts or alcoholics.

“There are two roads into Fort McMurray,” Crystal says. “There’s Highway 63 and Highway 881, which runs through here. This is one of the stops for the drugs. The traffickers say, ‘Well, there’s a little town, we’ll stop there and drop drugs there too. A lot of the drug runners are from small towns, from these communities. It is a quick way to make money.”

“Our community used to be safe,” she says. “We left the doors unlocked, even when we slept. We would leave our vehicles running. Nobody worried.”

“It’s dangerous now,” she goes on, speaking of the rash of robberies by addicts. She adds, “You can’t get into altercations. It’s the drugs. They affect people’s mental health. People live in fear.”

The resurrection of the old ceremonial practices such as the annual sun dance, along with the traditional medicine camp, harvesting camps and sweat lodges, is about another way of being, one that honors the interconnectedness of all living beings, including the earth on which we depend for life.

“We are seeing the effects,” Crystal says. “Our cultural practices and language embody a belief system that is the opposite of capitalism and globalization, the lust for money and material wealth.”

“I used to think globally,” she says. “I was in D.C. on the front lines. I was in the climate march in New York. I was everywhere. I traveled internationally. I was at every rally. But I wasn’t here, at home, doing the real work. It’s easier being out there, instead of being in our community. Yes, there is this big black cloud, but there is also another, beautiful side. The women in the community are bringing the ceremonies back. The more we return to the land, the closer we are to achieving holistic wellness. My community is not in despair. We are doing our diligence to be well again. I think about my dad. My dad was one of those people he’s talking about [when he says] ‘I had friends that I can’t trust now because they’re not well because of the drugs.’ My dad was one of those in despair. But he has come back to us and to himself.”

Chris Hedges, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

https://www.truthdig.com/author/chris_hedges/

Converting Information into Knowledge

[thoughts from    ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

Converting Information into (useful) Knowledge

I’ve been rather “quiet” on the blog lately, not because I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile to share but mainly because I’ve been absorbing information from a wide range of bloggers about a wide array of current topics. We talk about “informed opinion” and it is a “brute” fact that without information one cannot have informed opinions. The thing to be aware of is that information is neutral so the source of it is quite irrelevant. What matters is what happens when the information hits home: when the mind identifies it, translates it, sorts it, accepts, rejects. On a 100% scale, gathering information shouldn’t take more than a 10% slice of awareness. The 90% slice is converting it into knowledge.

I’ll make a simple comparison. A swimming pool does not equate swimming. I you can’t swim it won’t do you any good. You will stand at the edge, stare in it, then turn away, or you can jump in and drown. You need to learn how to swim to enjoy the pool. Once you’ve got that you can go to something more challenging, like a lake, a river, the ocean, and learn how to swim all over again. Sure, you’ll have the basics on how to stay afloat for a while, but what about current? Undercurrents? Waves? Underwater snags or those submerged reeds that grab the feet and tighten on the legs as you try to pull away? As a life-long canoeist, kayaker, river and sea lover I’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn how to interact with various types of water bodies, of “information” to stay afloat in, to learn from and of course to enjoy. Desire, determination and drive to overcome the initial reticence of the land creature to interact with water. Then, training, training, training, with risk and daring.

That’s my analogy and I think it is fitting because children in this modern day are not taught how to go from wishing to accomplishing. As information is forced upon young minds, wishes, dreams and desires are awakened and stirred but that’s just sitting on the edge of the pool stirring the water with one’s feet. That’s not swimming. Modern education is failing abjectly because it is inculcating, stuffing information but without simultaneous observation and experience nothing of value is learned.  In fact such inculcation is easily surpassed by even low level AI application. Once upon a time learning that 2+2=4 was a big deal. Now the same kid can find out the square root of pi while at the same time being told irrational numbers cannot be squared. Does the kid understand the implication? No but more “searches” will give other “answers” and the little brain will feel like it really knows “something” about “something” when in fact a half hour down the road it will have forgotten. After all, why bother with memorizing when it’s all at one’s fingertips?

Before anyone objects furiously that “there are some really smart kids out there” let me remind the reader that I speak of the majority, not the exceptions and also remind s/he that exceptions prove the rule – a truism. If there was no rule, there could be no exceptions so when someone brings up an exception they are proving the rule. I need to repeat that as with information most people have never bothered to understand that correlation. 

So we have access to more information than ever before, at least that we can know based on our short span of questionable history.  I could list so many examples of beliefs (information) that once formed the basis of education. Flat earth. It is a waste of time and money to educate girls because women can’t learn “stuff.” Two of my favourites. Currently we are just as stuck in beliefs used, not to improve conditions on the planet but to bolster/counter old beliefs or feed some collective hubris. Darwinian evolution theory – raised eyebrow? I can do better: moon landings as false flags. Stop reading now? 9/11 and the burning of Notre Dame – inside jobs – am I certifiable yet?

How to we know if we can neither observe nor experience “it”? How can we be so sure? How did we come to accept that the earth was some sort of sphere? When it was no longer a matter of belief but overwhelming evidence (even though we may still be quite wrong about that “certainty” and future generations in for a bigger surprise without going back to the flat earth belief). To learn something we need to work through it from many different angles, to observe and experience it differently. I think, for example, that experience has demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt that women are at least as intelligent as men and all they needed was a chance to demonstrate their intelligence and dexterity side by side with men. Yet there are still large pockets of resistance to this (which bothers me a lot), as there are still sincere flat earthers (which doesn’t bother me in the least).

The problem with belief is, it is not founded on knowledge – it relies on supportive belief and rejects evidence. That leads to the perpetuation of the vilest types of abuse on this world such as misogyny, racism, zealotry, bigotry, the economic and sexual exploitation of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society.  These are results of information not converted to knowledge.

Now the tough part: how do we convert our information into knowledge if we cannot observe first hand, or experience, the information? Is there a back door that can be used to let us escape the trap of being informed without being educated?

Though still not entirely satisfactory to me, I did devise a mental tool whereby I could determine the ‘value’ of certain information and the danger of other. I don’t know if my ‘tool’ has a name so I have to describe how it works instead.

I’ll take one of my favourite conspiracy theories: moon landings as false flags. (If you find yourself reacting strongly to such an accusation it’s time to look inside and ask, ‘why am I reacting negatively to such a statement? What’s in it for me? Am I afraid to realize I was taken in by the System so many years ago and spent my life believing a monstrous lie? Am I a patriot who feels obligated to defend “my country right or wrong”? Why is believing in the moon landings so important to me particularly?”) Already, that is the beginning of converting information into knowledge. But that’s not nearly enough. Let’s take the story all the way down – and yes, even if there is an American flag on the moon, and there are booted human footprints in its regolith.

Assume for a moment that I am a reasonably intelligent human being, not only well informed on what matters, but able to analyze that information and make use of it. Continuing with the “space program” (check this link for example about the reality of costs in space exploration and its purpose:  https://www.forbes.com/2009/07/16/apollo-moon-landing-anniversary-opinions-contributors-cost-money.html#2e1736181d04

Although it has been scientifically proven that getting live human beings to the moon – and back (that’s the big one) alive was impossible in 1969, as much as it is impossible today, with insurmountable problems of Van Allen belts radiation + solar radiation; weight of lander and impossibility of blasting free of even low lunar gravity based on available power, to little stupid details like camera and light angles, non-matching shadows and yes, numbers on rocks (staged!), that is not the issue for someone converting information into knowledge. Here’s what should matter: did these extremely expensive maneuvers “make America great again”?  Is the world in general in better shape socially, economically and environmentally today than it was in 1969? Yes, the “Evil Empire” (Soviet Union) imploded in 1991 but can we credit the moon landings for that? Even if we could, was that the end of the Cold War or did it just morph into another series of imperial endless wars mostly driven by America’s desperate need to control all major resources of the planet in order to maintain its military/corporate global empire?

I make this point, and I only need one, to demonstrate how the moon landings, real or false, were nothing more than a massive propaganda effort to bolster the military industrial complex and turn the US and subsequently the entire world into a controlled “security state” a la George Orwell’s “1984.”

Honestly, the whole world got worse. Credit (blame) whom you will for that but I “blame” the sheeple for believing without evidence; for accepting without reasoning, testing, experiencing.

“The world of spirits is unpredictable Mrs. Santiago. Are you a believer, Mrs Santiago?”
“Si, si, I believe, I believe. I pay more… I believe!” (paraphrase from the movie “Ghost”)